THE RELATIONSHIP OF ADULT ATTACHMENT TO THE WILLINGNESS OF SOLDIERS TO SEEK HELP FOR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CONCERNS
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Statement of Problem: This study sought to determine the influence of attachment styles and stigma on the willingness of soldiers to seek help for mental health concerns and the degree to which stigma mediates the relationship between attachment style and help-seeking. Methods: This study utilized data gathered from an anonymous survey of U.S. Army soldiers (N=538) used in a mixed-methods Epidemiological Consultation (EPICON). Participants responded to validated items measuring depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol use. Measures also included stigma, attachment types, and help-seeking. Analysis assessed the mediating effect of stigma on the willingness of insecure attachment styles to seek help across formal and informal helping categories. Results: Attachment avoidant soldiers were found more resistant to the idea of help-seeking than attachment anxious soldiers. Comparisons of insecure attachment styles (anxious and avoidant) found attachment avoidance predicted increases in stigma, corresponding with declines in help-seeking willingness, with the most significant decrease linked to unit peers and leaders. However, while stigma negatively influenced attachment anxious soldiers’ willingness to seek help from both military and civilian sources, it only mediated a decline in attachment avoidant soldiers’ willingness to seek help from military sources, not civilian. Conclusion: Findings align with prior research indicating anxious attachment adult hesitation can delay help-seeking, and under certain conditions, attachment avoidant adults can be open to help-seeking. Results also suggest when promoting help-seeking with service members and veterans, understanding the intersections between adult attachment types, stigma, and help-seeking is essential to effective clinical and community outreach practice.
Dr. Michelle Evans-Chase